“Loyalist Trails” 2020-36: September 13, 2020

In this issue:
Well-to-Do Loyalist Widows in London (Part 3 of 4), by Stephen Davidson
Stephanie Seal Walters Defended her PhD Dissertation
Father-son journey to Digby County NS shines light on little-known Black history
JAR: L’Expédition Particuliere: Winter 1780 and the Battle of Cape Henry
JAR: Margaret Eustace and Her Family Pass through the American Revolution
Atlantic Loyalist Connections: Death and Suicide in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, 1784-1850
Borealia: The State and Organized Rifle Shooting in Nova Scotia in the 1860s
Ben Franklin’s World: The Business of Slavery
Call for Proposals: New Brunswick Stories and Storytellers: A Pre-Confederation Collection
Better Subjects for Local Docu-series on Prince Edward County
Where in the World?
Region and Branch Bits
      + The Glengarry, Nor’Westers & Loyalist Museum – Glengarry Harvest Lunch
Additions to the Loyalist Directory
From the Twittersphere and Beyond


Well-to-Do Loyalist Widows in London (Part 3 of 4)

© Stephen Davidson, UE

The stories of most Loyalist widows have the bereaved wife forced into relying on her husband’s property and his demonstrated allegiance to secure the resources she and her children would need to survive in the years following the American Revolution. As this series has demonstrated, it is very difficult to ferret out the details of what a Loyalist woman endured apart from her husband. However, the story of Jane Constable is a remarkable exception to this rule.

Jane’s husband, noted only as Captain Constable, left England to settle in Massachusetts in 1774, “about a year before the troubles”. Constable quickly became embroiled in those “troubles”, fighting alongside the British troop at the Battle of Bunker Hill on June 17, 1775. Jane’s testimony to the RCLSAL does not indicate whether her husband was among the 766 British soldiers who were wounded during the costly British victory.

Despite the fact that Massachusetts was erupting into violence, Jane left England to join her husband in 1776. Given that the Loyalists of Massachusetts fled the colony through the port of Boston in March of that year, it may be that she arrived just in time to evacuate with Constable. She told the RCLSAL commissioners that she and her husband left Boston for New York City, the military headquarters for the British forces throughout the American Revolution.

Given that the movements of Jane and her husband over the next four years follow those of Constable’s commanding officer, General Alexander Leslie, it is logical to assume that Constable was a participant in a number of significant battles. Over the course of the revolution, Leslie’s troops saw action at Long Island, White Plains, Harlem Heights, Princeton and the siege of Charleston.

When Constable set sail for Savannah, Georgia in 1778, Jane accompanied him. By December, the British had captured the city, and would hold on to it until the summer of 1782. Jane eventually settled in nearby Charleston, South Carolina while Constable continued to fight with his regiment.

Jane’s husband was wounded “in an engagement with General Leslie in the Jerseys”, an encounter that may have been the Battle of Princeton. It is interesting to note at this point that General Leslie, Constable’s commanding officer, wrote a testimonial about the zeal of Jane’s husband and how Leslie “believed it shortened his life”. (Had Constable charged into battle unnecessarily, putting himself at risk?)

Constable became a prisoner of war following the battle. By October of 1780, he had died. Jane testified that his death was “a consequence of his confinement”. With no one left to tie her to life in the New World, the Loyalist captain’s widow left Charleston a month later. But Jane Constable was no poverty-stricken refugee bound for England. In addition to her trunks of clothes and possessions, she also boarded her evacuation ship with trading goods brought from South Carolina.

At some point during their stay in the southern colonies, Captain Constable had used his savings to buy indigo, tobacco and bee’s wax. Perhaps they were the spoils of war that Constable was able to purchase at reduced prices, but whatever their source, Jane considered these to be valuable goods that could be sold in England. The profits from the sales would give her a much-appreciated nest egg to supplement her widow’s pension of £20 a year.

Jane’s four years in the new United States of America had dragged her from Boston to Savannah, witnessed the death of her husband, and separated her from friends and family, but at least she would have some valuable American goods to provide her with a better life back in England.

But Jane’s ship – in her own words – “went to the bottom”. Everything that the evacuees had brought on board just days earlier had sunk with their ship. The cause of the shipwreck is not given, but the reason for the passengers’ survival is. Fortunately, Jane’s vessel had been escorted by at least one British war vessel as it made its way across the Atlantic. Since Jane testified that “she and the passengers were taken up by the Hydra”, the escort ship must have been within visual range of the sinking vessel.

The HMS Hydra was the first of seven British navy ships to bear that name. Included in its crew of about 200 men were a captain, two lieutenants, a surgeon, a purser, a chaplain, a gunner, carpenter and bosun, to name but a few of its officers. Just launched two years earlier, the Hydra used its 24 guns as part of the naval defense of Charleston. Now, in November of 1780, it was a rescue vessel for shipwrecked Loyalists.

Jane’s account of the shipwreck fails to mention how she and the other passengers of her ill-fated vessel managed to cram into a war ship. The majority of its crew slept in hammocks and ate their meals seated on wooden benches. Where did all of the extra passengers sleep during the crossing of the Atlantic? How did they manage to find enough rations for a crew swollen by castaways from a shipwreck?

While Jane was glad to have survived a disaster at sea, she grieved the loss of what little inheritance her husband had left her. When she appeared before the Loyalist compensation board on March 2, 1785, Jane hoped that RCLSAL would reimburse her for the loss of the bees wax, indigo and tobacco. It only took the commissioners a few hours to make a decision. They ruled that since her ship did not sink in battle but was lost “by accident”, the board would not compensate Jane Constable for her husband’s lost possessions. She would have to be content with her widow’s pension.

Another widow with a much shorter story had more success with the compensation board. Lillias McLean and her husband Donald had left Scotland for Charleston, South Carolina in 1774. They initially kept a store, but within a year’s time decided to purchase a farm about 70 miles away at Cross Creek.

When South Carolina began to divide along Patriot and Loyalist lines, Donald McLean joined a militia comprised of other loyal Scots. They were among those who fought the Battle of Moor’s Bridge on February 17, 1776. The Loyalists were quickly defeated. The victorious Patriots incarcerated Donald for four months. Lillias recalled that her husband was “very ill used whilst he was a prisoner”. Donald did not fight for the crown again until Lieutenant General Charles Cornwallis brought his army into South Carolina in 1780.

Military service took McLean to Charleston and then to Jamaica where he died of undisclosed causes. Although her testimony focused solely on her husband and his service to the crown, it was enough for Lillias to be granted compensation and an annual allowance of £14 a year. Born in Scotland, it would seem logical to assume that this Loyalist widow returned to her home where she faded from the historical records.

See next week’s Loyalist Trails for more stories of well-to-do widows in London.

To secure permission to reprint this article, email Stephen Davidson.

Stephanie Seal Walters Defended her PhD Dissertation

As a member of the UELAC Scholarship Committee it was my privilege to attend the online PhD dissertation defence of UELAC Scholarship recipient, Stephanie Seal Walters early in the morning on Monday, August 31st.

Beginning her defence, she spoke about a big hole in the historiography of Loyalism in Virginia. Over 90 minutes later there were cheers across the Internet when her committee returned from the “breakout room” and granted their approval. Stephanie’s PhD will be conferred by The College of Humanities and Social Sciences, George Mason University in Virginia. Congratulations to Dr. Stephanie Seal Walters.

It will be wonderful to have a copy of the dissertation in the UELAC Archives when it is printed. Thank you to Bonnie Schepers UE, Scholarship Chair for submitting the defence details and link in the August 23rd edition of Loyalist Trails.

And more great news on the Scholarship front – Thank you to the Bicentennial Branch for their recent donation bringing our 2020 Scholarship Challenge – Looking Ahead With 20/20 Vision – total to $23,948.00.

Thank you to all individual donors and to the members of the branches that donated during the 2020 challenge. Donation updates can be found here.

…Christine E. Manzer UE, President, Vancouver Branch

Father-son journey to Digby County NS shines light on little-known Black history

CBCNews 30 Aug 2020

There’s no sign marking the Black Loyalist cemetery in Conway, N.S.

The humble field with a dozen or so faded tombstones sits on the main road to Digby, across the street from a car dealership.

It’s a serene spot overlooking the water that’s easy to miss, even when you’re looking for it.

That’s what happened to 13-year-old Noah Cain and his dad when they made the two-hour drive from Halifax earlier this month to experience in person what the Grade 8 student had spent hours researching online.

Father and son ended up asking staff at a nearby gas station for directions.

“They happened to be Caucasian and I said, ‘Do you know where the Black cemetery is in Digby, in Conway?’ And they looked at me like I had five heads. They had no idea what I was talking about,” Noah’s dad, Sheldon Cain, told CBC’s Information Morning.

“And then by the grace of God there was a Black man there and he knew exactly what I was talking about.”

The cemetery is one of the last remnants of a historic Black community called Brinley Town that formed around 1785.

Read more.

JAR: L’Expédition Particuliere: Winter 1780 and the Battle of Cape Henry

by Kim Burdick 25 August 2020

In July 1780, after three and half months at sea, nearly 6,000 thousand men[1] and supplies crammed on four frigates, seven ships of the line, and thirty-six transport vessels, sailed into Narragansett Bay. Ludwig von Closen of the Royal Deux-Ponts was dispatched to alert Gen. George Washington that the French allies had arrived. Washington quickly sent the Marquis de Lafayette to welcome them.

Read more.

JAR: Margaret Eustace and Her Family Pass through the American Revolution

by Robert Scott Davis 3 September 2020

John L. Smith, Jr. introduced readers of the Journal of the American Revolution to Margaret Eustace in his article, “The Scandalous Divorce Case that Influenced the Declaration of Independence.” She had a second act in the American Revolution. In Georgia, late in the war, she made a name for herself.

In November 1772, Thomas Jefferson represented Eustace’s daughter Catherine “Kitty” Blair in a divorce from Dr. James Blair of Williamsburg, Virginia, son of four time acting Governor Dr. John Blair Sr. and of the prominent Blair family that had founded the College of William and Mary. The marriage proved a failure literally from day one but continued on by court order for four months until Kitty Eustace Blair sued for divorce for a second time.

Rumors abounded of Kitty Blair’s infidelities with Virginia’s colonial governor, the “flamboyant Scotsman” John Murray, the Fourth Earl of Dunmore. Blair died before his divorce went to trial and, after long legal proceedings over his estate involving Jefferson and the famous William Byrd III, Patrick Henry, and Edmund Pendleton, Kitty Blair’s attorneys won and she became a wealthy widow.

Margaret Eustace played roles throughout this notorious affair, an episode in her epic career as a survivor. Born into the Campbell family of Ormaig, a branch of the Campbells of Duntroon, Scotland, in 1733, Margaret married Dr. John Eustace, novel collector and correspondent with novelist clergyman Laurence Sterne. With limited opportunities in Scotland, in 1739 these Eustaces moved to Ulster County, New York, following her father Capt. Lauchlin Campbell of Isle of Isla in Argyllshire, a kinsman to Archibald Campbell (1692-1761), Earl of Ily, 3rd Duke of Argyll. Lauchlin Campbell (d. 1750) brought eighty-three families to New York at his own expense in 1738-1740 on the false promise of New York colonial governor William Alexander Cosby of 100,000 acres.

Read more.

Atlantic Loyalist Connections: Death and Suicide in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, 1784-1850

By Harrison Dressler 26 August 2020

During the seventy years after the Loyalists arrived, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia remained a prosperous, albeit cold and unforgiving. When first settled, not only did Loyalist families have to cope with a drastic change in scenery and general quality of life, they also had to contend with the regret of what they had lost: thousands of casualties associated with the Revolutionary War, a slew of separated families, and £9 million in property losses, only £3 million of which was ever repaid by the Loyalist Claims Commission.

While in the American colonies, loyalists were prone to arrest, assault, robbery, and poverty; once in Canada, the lives of these dedicated loyalists and their descendants sometimes never improved. Due to the inherent economic struggles associated with the developing, colonial economy in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, many new residents struggled to find meaningful employment and integrate themselves into the community.

Psychological turmoil, however, certainly did not end with the loyalist era. On the contrary, loyalist descendants and other immigrants still had to contend with dramatic shifts in climate, culture, agriculture, and industrial development. The War of 1812 also played no small role in the mental and emotional pain suffered by those living in the region.

Read more.

Borealia: The State and Organized Rifle Shooting in Nova Scotia in the 1860s

By R. Blake Brown 24 August 2020

The Nova Scotia Rifle Association proudly claims to be the oldest provincial rifle association in Canada. It leaves unstated that it was largely a product of the state. A key skill possessed by effective military forces in the 1860s was accurate rifle shooting. However, military leaders in the early 1860s were appalled by the state of the militia in Nova Scotia, and the lack of sufficient musketry practice. They responded by encouraging ‘citizen-soldiers’ to train in rifle shooting.

Changing firearm technology contributed to the desire to spur interest in rifle practice. Smooth-bore, muzzle-loaded muskets firing round bullets had long served as the primary military weapon of European armies. Such firearms had a relatively short effective range – a good shot could hit a target at approximately 100 meters. This led European armies to practice drill and mass volley fire as an infantry tactic. More accurate rifled weapons had long existed but tended to build up residue that fouled the musket until the introduction of new conical ammunition that expanded upon being fired. Britain began to replace smooth-bore muskets with more accurate muzzle-loading Enfield rifles in the 1850s as the primary weapon issued to troops.

Read more.

Ben Franklin’s World: The Business of Slavery

Caitlin Rosenthal, an Assistant Professor at the University of California and author of Accounting for Slavery: Masters and Management, leads us on an investigation into the origins of how American businesses came to collect and use data to manage their workers and their pursuit of profits.

During our investigation, Caitlin reveals why we need to view slaveholder account books as business records; How slaveholder account books became standardized in the late 18th and early 19th centuries; And how the standardization of slaveholder account books gave rise to spreadsheets, data, and the use of scientific management, which imposed a brutal system of surveillance over enslaved people.

Listen to the podcast.

Call for Proposals: New Brunswick Stories and Storytellers: A Pre-Confederation Collection

Atlantic Canada Studies Centre, UNB

As historians of Atlantic Canada based in New Brunswick, we are often captivated and by turns confounded by the richness of the stories, case studies, and individual experiences that we see in the documentary record, but which simply “don’t fit” within past interpretations of the province and larger national frameworks. Not since the publication of MacNutt’s New Brunswick: A History (1963) has there been a study of the province and its peoples, particularly for the pre-Confederation era. This proposed collection of short vignettes and microhistories will introduce a broad audience of readers to some of those stories that we believe have both general and scholarly interest.

This is an open call for contributors for those who specialize in the history of this region. We invite you to offer proposals for vignettes that are four to six thousand words in length. Think of this opportunity as a platform to write something longer than a blog post, but shorter than a traditional academic article.

Read more.

Better Subjects for Local Docu-series on Prince Edward County

By Anne Elspeth Rector 12 September 2020

‘The County’s’ been dominating conversation as urbanites, sprung from COVID-19 seclusion, swarmed Quinte’s southern summer scene; attractions of this idyllic isle amplified far and, apparently, world-wide.

Several newspaper articles described the county of Prince Edward as an “island” even though it isn’t. For those unfamiliar with local turf, it isn’t Prince Edward Island – back east, but Prince Edward Isle; Quinte’s Isle; Prince Edward County or ‘the County.’ Otherwise, you’re ‘come from away,’ eh.

Then I read an article by Virginia Clinton, the local journalism initiative reporter, who introduced an enterprising couple of new arrivals with story-telling skills.

Unsurprised by the subject matter, the choice of subjects did surprise. Why start with newer arrivals given so many stories of local “courage, resilience, and the dream of starting over…”? For as I, a nomadic military transplant who’s lived here 40 years, consider resilience and starting over, I think of turning lenses toward the earliest inhabitants of local lands; nomadic First Peoples.

Read more.

Where in the World?

Where is Greg Hussey of Nova Scotia Branch?

To participate, submit a photo of yourself in UELAC promotional gear at a place of some note and tell us where it is (if you are a member of a branch, please indicate that as well). Send your submission to the editor at loyalist.trails@uelac.org.

Region and Branch Bits

From the UELAC branches, news and events of interest to others.

The Glengarry, Nor’Westers & Loyalist Museum – Glengarry Harvest Lunch

RSVP date 17 Sept for lunch on Thursday, September 24th, 2020, Williamstown, ON.

Pick up at 11:30am OR eat-in at 12pm (reservation only).

Boxes serve 2 guests and are $25.

Please Phone Joyce Lewis at 613-347-1116 to reserve.

Depending on the weather, seating will be available both indoors and outdoors for those who reserve spots.

Proceeds raised with these boxes will go towards the Loyalist exhibit redesign.

Takeaway lunch boxes, served with coffee and tea.

GNLM Team, 19651 John Street, Williamstown, ON K0C 2J0

Additions to the Loyalist Directory

As time permits, we add information to the Loyalist Directory. The latest additions and updates are as follows:

  • Philip Eamer – contributed by Vicki Holmes
  • Conrad Barnet – contributed by Pam Wood Waugh
  • Abraham Blois – contributed from Branch records by Jo Ann Tuskin

Please help us build the directory by contributing information. Contact loyalist.trails@uelac.org for guidance.

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

  • Last weekend’s ferry trip from Long Island to Brier Island on “Margaret’s Justice“, named after Margaret Davis, Loyalist who walked to Halifax in 1828 to get title to her land. Brian McConnell UE
  • Watch the short video “Visit to gravestone of Loyalists in Hilltop Cemetery at Westport, Digby County, Nova Scotia on Sept. 6, 2020”.
  • At Hilltop Cemetery in Westport, Brier Island, NS beside gravestone to Ethel Davis, Sergeant in Prince of Wales American Regt. during American Revolution & wife Margaret who walked to Halifax to get title to property. Brian McConnell UE
  • 2 September 1750 – On this date, the first service took place at St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Halifax –  conducted by the Rev. William Tutty (1715-1754). St. Paul’s is the oldest surviving Protestant church in Canada, and is also considered the oldest building in Halifax. Brian McConnell UE
  • This Week in History
  • Townsend’s
  • Clothing and Related:
    • You’ve seen the strawberry dress, but how cute are these strawberry shoes?? Dating all the way back to the 1760s! Via the Hampshire City Council Museum.
    • brocaded silk with floss fringe, prob. Spitalfields mid18thc; only unpicked skirt remains. Despite fragile condition & shattered silk, it retains vibrance & sheen. Worn in Portsmouth, NH & Boston, MA
    • 18th Century dress, sleeve & flounce detail, showcasing floral silk embroidery and trimmings, 1775-1785 via @V_and_A
    • 18th Century Court Mantua, c.1760, It was probably worn by Mary Holt, wife of the 7th Earl of Haddington and may have been worn at the wedding of King George III to Queen Charlotte in 1761.
    • 18th Century men’s Court coat of deep teal velvet with silk embroidered floral designs, 1770-1790 via Whitaker Auctions
    • 18th Century men’s waistcoat showing the Fox & the Crow from Aesop’s fable across the bottom. Warning our wearer to beware of flattery, or perhaps warning others of the wearer’s flattery?! c.1790’s
    • 18th Century men’s ensemble, delicious red coat, 1787-1792
  • Miscellaneous
    •  Pug Collectibles and Trinkets in the 1700 and 1800s. By Geri Walton | September 7, 2020. Pug collectibles and trinkets were plentiful in the 1700 and 1800s because at the time pugs were a popular dog breed having been introduced beginning in the seventeenth century into Europe from China. “Pugs at this time looked somewhat different than today. They had fewer facial wrinkles, longer legs, and clipped ears, a practice that was officially banned in England in 1895.” Pugs quickly became a favorite pet of the European upper class. Read more…
    • I love finding buttons in the Thames mud ( just as well as I find lots!).This tiny one has an M to the left of the anchor & so something else on the right. Too early for Merchant Navy I think. Any ideas on age & significance of letters? I’m thinking 1800s.